Norway in London

Painting Norway: Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928), Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21, until 15th May 2016

Nikolai Astrup The Parsonage, Oil on canvas 101 x 88 cm The Savings Bank Foundation DNB/The Astrup Collection/KODE Art Museums of Bergen

Nikolai Astrup
The Parsonage,
Oil on canvas
101 x 88 cm
The Savings Bank Foundation DNB/The Astrup Collection/KODE Art Museums of Bergen

This is London’s first exhibition of paintings and prints by the renowned Norwegian artist Nikolai Astrup (1880-1928).  It is an exhilarating insight into both his artistic life and the area where he lived in western Norway where he grew up in his father’s parsonage at Ålhus and later at his own farmstead at Astruptunet (formerly known as Sandalstrand).  It is a magical world recalling his childhood and the spirit of the place.

Nikolai Astrup Interior Still Life: Christmas Morning, Oil on canvas 94 x 104 cm Private Collection

Nikolai Astrup
Interior Still Life: Christmas Morning,
Oil on canvas
94 x 104 cm
Private Collection

Although initially a follower of the Norwegian naturalist style through studying elsewhere in Europe he became influenced by the “naive” style of Maurice Denis and Henri ‘le Douanier’ Rousseau and the results as you can see are both distinctive and engaging.

Nikolai Astrup Midsummer Eve Bonfire, After 1917 Black and white woodcut on paper 34.5 x 34 cm approx Private Collection

Nikolai Astrup
Midsummer Eve Bonfire, After 1917
Black and white woodcut on paper
34.5 x 34 cm approx
Private Collection

 

Henrik Lund Portrait of Nikolai Astrup, 1900 Oil on canvas 90 x 68 cm Oslo Museum

Henrik Lund
Portrait of Nikolai Astrup, 1900
Oil on canvas
90 x 68 cm
Oslo Museum

 

Nikolai Astrup A Clear Night in June, 1905-1907 Oil on canvas 148 x 152 cm The Savings Bank Foundation DNB/The Astrup Collection/KODE Art Museums of Bergen

Nikolai Astrup
A Clear Night in June, 1905-1907
Oil on canvas
148 x 152 cm
The Savings Bank Foundation DNB/The Astrup Collection/KODE Art Museums of Bergen

http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

The National Gallery – Peder Balke

Peder Balke, Sunley Room, The National Gallery, London, until 12th April 2015

The National Gallery only owns one painting by a Norwegian artist (to date) and that is by Peder Balke (1804–1887) who is the subject of this exhibition.

North Cape probably 1840s Oil on canvas 94 × 123 cm Credit Line:Private collection © Photo Thomas Widerberg, Oslo

North Cape
probably 1840s
Oil on canvas
94 × 123 cm
Credit Line: Private collection
© Photo Thomas Widerberg, Oslo

Considered a forerunner of modernism, Balke trained in his native Norway as well as in Stockholm and Dresden. In 1832 he travelled to the very far north of Norway where he became enamoured with the rugged, dramatic landscape of the North Cape which he would continue to paint throughout his life and so there is some sense of repetition of the theme.

Mount Snøhetta, Dovre 1877 Oil on wood 13 × 16.5 cm Credit Line:Trondheim Kunstmuseum © Trondheim Kunstmuseum, photo Tore Strønstad

Mount Snøhetta, Dovre
1877
Oil on wood
13 × 16.5 cm
Credit Line: Trondheim Kunstmuseum
© Trondheim Kunstmuseum, photo Tore Strønstad

His lack of financial achievement as a painter meant that he had to give painting up as a career and so he turned towards politics and developing housing for the poor with greater success. However, as this exhibition eloquently shows, he continued to paint for himself with a greater freedom and experimentation that seem to anticipate expressionism.

Northern Lights 1870s Oil on board 10 × 12 cm Credit Line:The Hearn Family Trust © Photo courtesy of the owner

Northern Lights
1870s
Oil on board
10 × 12 cm
Credit Line: The Hearn Family Trust
© Photo courtesy of the owner

I shall leave the final words to the artist who wrote of his North Cape visit ”… the pen cannot describe the illustrious and overwhelming impression, which the opulent beauties of nature and locations delivered to the eye and the mind – an impression, that not only caught me in the flush of the moment, but also had a significant influence onto my whole future life, as I never, not in a foreign country nor anywhere else in our country, had the opportunity to contemplate something so impressive and inspiring as what I have seen on this Finnmark-journey.”

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk